In the world of sleep apnea treatments, Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) is the king. But what is the difference between the machines that provide the pressure? They are also used to treat hypopnea and snoring.
There is CPAP, BiPAP and APAP. They all provide pressure to the airway to hold it open while you’re sleeping. But the way they adjust (or don’t as the case may be) the pressure is what differentiates them. Buying a CPAP without Prescription
The simplest (and least expensive) option is the CPAP machine. The “C” stands for Constant.
When you have a CPAP machine your sleep specialist will determine the lowest pressure setting that will provide you with relief from your sleep apnea under most conditions. Then your machine will be set to this pressure (which can vary between 4 and 20 mmHg).
There are two major drawbacks to CPAP. The first is that the pressure is always set for the worst case. That means that it will often be higher than it needs to be just in case.
The second drawback is that some people have trouble exhaling when the pressure is in the higher range. The pressure helps keep their airway open but they have to fight to breathe out.
To combat the second drawback described above, BiPAP machines are used. The “Bi” stands for Bi level.
A BiPAP machine has 2 pressure settings rather than just 1. They are referred to as IPAP and EPAP (Inspiratory PAP and Expiratory PAP respectively). The machine switches between the IPAP and EPAP settings as it detects you breathing in and out.
This makes it easier to breathe out than with a normal CPAP machine.
That brings us to APAP. Here, the “A” stands for Automatic. An APAP can actually be an automatic CPAP or automatic BiPAP. These machines address the fact that your body will need different pressures to provide relief over time.
Factors such as weight, stress levels, alcohol or tobacco use and even exhaustion can impact the amount of pressure required to prevent sleep apnea. The pressure your body needs can change from breath to breath during the night.